#110. The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Posted on | The Agurban
The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs

A recent study by the National Foundation for American Policy provides an objective overview of the impact of immigrant entrepreneurs on the U.S. economy. The study examined the nativity of the founders of all U.S. venture-backed publicly traded companies, and surveyed privately held venture- backed companies to understand their views on immigration policy and to obtain demographic data on their founders.

Regarding immigrant founded publicly traded venture- backed companies in the United States, the key findings concluded:
  • ** Over the past 15 years, immigrants have started 25 percent of these companies.
  • ** The current market capitalization of these companies in the U.S. exceeds $500 billion.
  • ** These companies are concentrated in the cutting edge sectors of high-technology manufacturing, information technology (IT) and life sciences.
  • ** 40 percent of the companies operating in high- tech manufacturing today were started by immigrants.
  • ** Some of these companies include Intel, Solectron, Sun Microsystems, eBay, Yahoo and Google.
  • ** Most of these companies are technology-related and pay high salaries for white collar professional positions but employ fewer people than venture- backed retail stores, like Home Depot or Starbucks.

A key lesson of the study is the importance of maintaining an open legal immigration system. While the debate in Congress has focused on illegal immigration, American companies have identified significant problems with the current system for admitting skilled foreign-born professionals. Understanding the significant contribution of immigrant entrepreneurs and professionals to job creation and innovation should be an important element of improving America’s legal immigration system.

The Immigration Act of 1990 set an annual limit of 65,000 H-1B visas (temporary visas used to hire skilled foreign nationals for up to six years), and recently added 20,000 exemptions from that cap for foreign students who graduated with an advanced degree from a U.S. university. Participants in the study overwhelmingly agreed that the “current immigration laws on skilled professionals harm American competitiveness”, and that the current restrictions on legal immigration are harmful and will result in less entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation in the United States.

Our 2007 Top Trend #7 – Non-traditional Entrepreneurs, which includes immigrant entrepreneurs, is a trend that we believe will explode with the millennial generation. Let’s hope our immigration laws keep pace with the demands of global competition.